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Armada Book Review

Armada Book

Ernest Cline’s latest sci-fi novel “Armada” is hit-and-miss.

“Armada” begins with a high school senior (Zack) seeing a UFO outside of his classroom. To make matters even stranger, the UFO resembles a Sobrukai Glaive ship from his favorite video game (Armada). At first Zack thinks he is going crazy, but when he realizes his alleged late father’s journal expressed similar experiences, he begins to wonder if something is going on. As it turns out, something is indeed going on. Without delving into too many spoilers, let’s just say that Zack’s life is forever changed when he learns of a forthcoming alien invasion. What will be Zack’s role in the war with the aliens? How does the Armada video game tie into things? What happened to Zack’s father Xavier? These are the type of questions that are explored throughout the pages of “Armada.”

After writing the screenplay for the highly underrated comedy film “Fanboys” and penning the brilliant 2011 novel “Ready Player One,” Ernest Cline was undoubtedly becoming one of the most promising up-and-coming writers. With his latest novel “Armada,” however, the talented author seems to, pardon the pun, be on auto-pilot.

With “Ready Player One” and “Fanboys,” Ernest Cline managed to create clever and heartfelt coming of age stories that contained a heavy dose of pop culture references. “Armada” certainly follows this structure as it too is peppered with mentions of everything from “Star Wars” and ZZ Top to “Ender’s Game” and “The Last Starfighter.” While the constant geeky references may annoy some, I’ve always found it to be Cline’s strong suit. Perhaps it is because his train of thought mirrors my own and that it feels authentic to both the story and modern geek culture. In the case of “Armada,” the references turn out to be essential to the story.

On the subject of the story, it is sadly the weak link here. Perhaps it is because it bears such a strong resemblance to “The Twilight Zone,” “Ready Player One,” “Tron: Legacy,” “Ender’s Game” and “The Last Starfighter,” but “Armada” legitimately lacks ingenuity. Sure, the video game link, the father/son storyline, and the war offer up intense and rewarding moments, but it often feels repetitive. You can’t shake the feeling that Cline has already covered similar ground. Furthermore, the middle portion of the novel really suffers from far too much exposition/set-up and a serious lack of adventure. Luckily, the engaging events that transpire in the beginning and the end help balance it out.

Overall Thoughts: Is “Armada” worth reading? Yes. It is disappointing when compared to Cline’s other work, but it still manages to entertain. I only hope that with Cline’s next novel that he will mix it up a bit and venture outside of the gaming and sci-fi realm. I’d like to see what he can do in other genres or subgenres.

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July 6, 2015 - Posted by | Book review | , , ,

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